Westmill community wind farm is the first wind farm in the Southeast of England to be the first 100% community owned scheme in the UK from the time of commissioning. The scheme produces pollution-free electricity for over 2,500 average homes and saves the emission of carbon dioxide. The wind farm has five towers erected in a straight line across the old airfield, near Watchfield, South Oxfordshire.
The five towers are 49 metres high, topped by a nacelle containing the generator, gearbox and other operating equipment. Each generator is driven by a three-bladed propeller, with each blade measuring 31 metres. The electricity generated is conveyed by an underground cable to a sub-station, where it is metered and fed into the local grid. Crop farming may continue as before with planting taking place right up to the base of the towers. The blades start turning when the wind speed at hub-height reaches 3 to 5 m/s. At very high wind speeds the blades will stop rotating to prevent damage.
Power generated from the turbines is sold through a Power Purchase Agreement to two separate electricity suppliers for a fixed term. The turbines are maintained and insured throughout their working life, which is expected to be for the 25 years of the planning consent. Funding of the £7.6m project was from a public share issue and a loan from the Co-op bank allowing local ownership of the site and maximising the social, environmental and economic benefits to the area. Read more on a larger scale wind farm at Little Cheyne Court.